Volkswagen to sponsor intl Table Tennis Federation

SWITZERLAND: In what should prove to be a major boon to the sport of table tennis the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has concluded an agreement with automobile manufacturer Volkswagen AG. This is said to be the most extensive sponsor contract in table tennis ever.

In India, table tennis action on the Asian circuit can be seen on ESPN Star Sports. Volkswagen will be the title sponsor of four pro tour events to come in Asia this year and all pro tour events in the Asia Pacific region next year.. The first event included in the agreement will be the Volkswagen Korea Open which takes place from 4-7 September 2003.

The pro tour grand finals in 2003 and 2004 will also carry the name of Volkswagen - as well as the Volkswagen World Individual Table Tennis Championships in Shanghai, China in May 2005. At the Volkswagen Pro Tour Grand Finals the winners of the Men?s and the Women?s Singles will be able to drive back home. On top of the prize money (men's singles $38.000 and women's singles $26.000 ) the winners can take home a VW Beetle Convertible.

As a part of the agreement, Volkswagen has the right to be the official car at the above mentioned ITTF events. ITTF president Adham Sharara said, "Obviously we are extremely happy with this agreement. During the last years we have tried to make changes and improvements in order to make table tennis more attractive for spectators, television - and sponsors. This agreement tells us that we are on the right track.

"We are proud to work with Volkswagen and we will do everything possible to give Volkswagen value for money. With the position of our sport in Asia, both concerning spectators and TV coverage, I feel confident that we will succeed"

Volkswagen AG will also be the title sponsor of the Volkswagen German Open and the sponsor of the German National Team. However, the main target for Volkswagen is the Asian region, especially China, and to that end the Chinese interest in table tennis is seen as the perfect weapon.

China's national television network CCTV has bought the rights to broadcast live from all pro tour events.

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